While Bernie Sanders has now been protested twice, there seems to be a willingness to overlook Hillary Clinton's past on the topics of race and gay rights. Black Lives Matter is a noble organization that has brought much needed attention to profound issues; however, recent protests ignore the fact that Clinton's political career runs contrary to many of the organization's stated objectives. Aside from the fact Hillary Clinton recently stated "All Lives Matter" in a speech to a historically black church in Missouri, below are five legitimate reasons why Black Lives Matter should also protest Hillary Clinton.
1. Hillary Clinton's 3 a.m. ad in 2008 contained a "racist sub-message," according to Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson.
Bernie Sanders endorsed Jesse Jackson for president in 1988, was active in the Civil Rights movement during the 1960s, and never engaged in using seemingly racist undertones as a means to win a political race.
Hillary Clinton, in contrast, ran a now infamous 3 a.m. ad with a reportedly "racist sub-message" against Obama in 2008. According to Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson's New York Times op-ed titled "The Red Phone in Black and White," Hillary Clinton resorted to exploiting racial fears during 2008's heated competition for the White House:
ON first watching Hillary Clinton's recent "It's 3 a.m." advertisement, I was left with an uneasy feeling that something was not quite right...
I have spent my life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery...
I couldn't help but think of D. W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation," the racist movie epic...
The ad could easily have removed its racist sub-message by including images of a black child, mother or father -- or by stating that the danger was external terrorism...
It is striking, too, that during the same weekend the ad was broadcast, Mrs. Clinton refused to state unambiguously that Mr. Obama is a Christian and has never been a Muslim.
Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson, author of numerous books on race and the history of racism, is also the author of the landmark Slavery and Social Death. His observations of Clinton's 3 a.m. ad come from decades of profound analysis on the issue of race and politics. Bernie Sanders has never engaged in the utilization of racial fears, prejudice and stereotype.
2. Hillary Clinton waited close to three weeks to address Ferguson. Why?
Not only did Twitter grill Clinton's Ferguson remarks (when she eventually made a statement), but leaders within the African-American community questioned her motives in waiting until after the protests to speak.
Like Keystone XL and other topics, Hillary Clinton refused to issue a definitive statement during an ongoing controversy. According to a CNN article titled "Hillary Clinton breaks silence on Ferguson," the former Secretary of State had a specific reason for waiting so long to take a firm stance:
(CNN) - Hillary Clinton broke her silence Thursday...
In the weeks after the shooting, civil rights and black thought leaders had called on Clinton to comment on Ferguson.
Marc Lamont Hill, a CNN commentator, said Clinton's decision to "ignore the question and to not proactively and assertively address the issue is shameful."
"Hillary Clinton offers a statement on Michael Brown and Ferguson. 19 days later," Hill tweeted in response to the speech. "Next she'll offer her thoughts on Rodney King and Vietnam."
Therefore, isn't Clinton's politically motivated refusal to speak about Ferguson before an almost three week period worthy of protest? If such actions are deemed "shameful," then doesn't this refusal to address Ferguson, when Ferguson was in flames, worthy of focus from Black Lives Matter?
3. Bill Clinton recently apologized for his 1994 crime bill and his role in the mass incarceration that has disproportionately affected African-Americans.
One of the biggest issues today, pertaining to race and politics, is the tragedy of mass incarceration. In a Vox article titled "Bill Clinton apologized for his 1994 crime bill, but he still doesn't get why it was bad," the issue of mass incarceration was exacerbated under the Clinton presidency:
Hillary Clinton is campaigning on, among other things, an end to the era of mass incarceration. Awkwardly, Bill Clinton, former president of the United States, signed a law in 1994 that did a lot to accelerate mass incarceration...
The Clintons are politicians, and it makes sense that they've shifted their positions in response to the demands of the public and their party. In the 1980s and 1990s, Democrats were afraid of being seen as "soft on crime," and felt that cracking down on crime might help African-American communities...
While the Clinton presidency "did a lot to accelerate mass incarceration" and didn't want to be "soft on crime," Bernie Sanders has clearly stated, "Millions of lives have been destroyed because people are in jail for nonviolent crimes."
4. Black Lives Matter is also heavily focused on gay rights. Hillary Clinton was against gay marriage up until 2013.
Clinton also stated in 2004 that traditional marriage was "the fundamental bedrock principle that exists between a man and a woman, going back into the midst of history as one of the foundational institutions of history and humanity and civilization."
An article in The Atlantic titled "Hillary Clinton's Gay-Marriage Problem" highlights the fact that Clinton was against what most gay rights activists have worked for years to finally accomplish:
Hillary Clinton didn't refrain from supporting same-sex marriage for political reasons -- before last year, she earnestly believed that marriage equality should be denied to gays and lesbians.
That's the story the 66-year-old Democrat settled on when NPR host Terry Gross pressed her on her views.
That same year, Clinton ran for president while openly opposing gay marriage. If she is to be believed, she also opposed gay marriage as recently as 2013, long after a majority of Americans already held a more gay-friendly position.
While Hillary Clinton believed up until recently that marriage should be "denied to gays and lesbians," Bernie Sanders has a long history supporting gay rights. It should be noted by Black Lives Matter and all gay rights activists that Bernie Sanders voted against Bill Clinton's Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.
5. Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2008 not only ran an ad accused of having a "racist sub-message," but a black leader in the House of Representatives denounced Bill Clinton's attacks on Obama.
According a New York Times article in 2008 titled "Black Leader in House Denounces Bill Clinton's Remarks," black leaders in Congress condemned Bill Clinton's remarks about Barrack Obama:
The third-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives and one of the country's most influential African-American leaders sharply criticized former President Bill Clinton this afternoon for what he called Mr. Clinton's "bizarre" conduct during the Democratic primary campaign.
Representative James E. Clyburn, an undeclared superdelegate from South Carolina who is the Democratic whip in the House, said that "black people are incensed over all of this," referring to statements that Mr. Clinton had made in the course of the heated race between his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Senator Barack Obama.
Mr. Clyburn added that there appeared to be an almost "unanimous" view among African-Americans that Mr. and Mrs. Clinton were "committed to doing everything they possibly can to damage Obama to a point that he could never win."
After the uproar over several comments, Bill Clinton was even forced to say, "I am not a racist."
The goal of protesting a political event is noble, especially when such grandiose issues are at stake. However, when one politician has a record of promoting civil rights and gay rights when opinion polls were against both, and Bill Clinton executed a mentally disabled black man simply for the goal of winning an election, the Clinton campaign should also receive protests.
Hillary Clinton's past runs contrary to the stated goals of Black Lives Matter. Hillary Clinton was against gay marriage, used a campaign ad accused of having racist undertones, waited a calculating 19 days to address Ferguson, and utilized racial prejudices against Barack Obama.
Furthermore, Bill Clinton's crime bill may have helped contribute to Ferguson, Baltimore and other tragedies linked to mass incarceration. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, is the antithesis of Clinton's record on these issues and stood by the noble causes advocated by Black Lives Matter, long before they were popular. In the interest of fairness, and the fact that Sanders has a better record on race and gay rights than Clinton, activists should also focus on the Clinton Campaign in 2016.